There is no shortage of iconic masculine imagery of the soldier in American film andliterature-one only has to think of George C. Scott as Patton in front of a giant Americanflag, Sylvester Stallone as Rambo, or Burt Lancaster rolling around in the surf in From Here toEternity. In Male Armor, Jon Robert Adams examines the ways in which novels,plays, and films about America's late-twentieth-century wars reflect alteringperceptions of masculinity in the culture at large. He highlights the gap between the culturalconception of masculinity and the individual experience of it, and exposes the myth of war as anexperience that verifies manhood.Drawing on a wide range of work, from the war novels ofErnest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, James Jones, and Joseph Heller to David Rabe's playStreamers and Anthony Swofford's Jarhead, Adams examinesthe evolving image of the soldier from World War I to Operation Desert Storm. In discussing thesechanging perceptions of masculinity, he reveals how works about war in the late twentieth centuryattempt to eradicate inconsistencies among American civilian conceptions of war, themilitary's expectations of the soldier, and the soldier's experience of combat. Adamsargues that these inconsistencies are largely responsible not only for continuing support of the warenterprise but also for the soldiers' difficulty in reintegration to civilian society upontheir return. He intends Male Armor to provide a corrective to the public'scontinued investment in the war enterprise as a guarantor both of masculinity and, by extension, ofthe nation.
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